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Category: Business and Industry

Date Submitted: 11/15/2012 03:15 AM

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Assignment (30%)

Due date: 9 November 2011

Weighting: 30%

Topic: From Chapter 4

Length: 1500 words

Format: Essay


For a long time, Carleton S. (“Carly”) Fiorina was one of the best-known CEOs in the world. Brought in as Hewlett-Packard’s (HP) CEO in 1999, Fiorina was instantly recognizable for her charisma, visibility, and aggressiveness. Practically every OB book (including this one) featured her. She was even mentioned as a possible cabinet member of the Bush administration or a Senate candidate from California. Widely praised as a change agent and a visionary leader at Lucent Technologies—which she led before joining HP—Fiorina had a way of generating enthusiasm and excitement. Some called her a “rock star” CEO.

However, under Fiorina’s leadership, HP struggled as the world’s second-largest computer company. Although revenue climbed steadily under her leadership, profits did not. Nor did the stock price—an investor who bought HP stock the day Fiorina was hired would have seen 55% of the investment vanish by the time she was fired. Her acquisition of Compaq in 2002, which Walter Hewlett (son of the company’s co-founder and one of HP’s largest shareholders) was adamantly against, never paid off as promised.

As a result of these struggles, the HP board tried to find a way to limit Fiorina’s powers and give more authority to other executives. A month before her firing, Fiorina was told point-blank by three board members that she had to change her style. She adamantly refused. A month later, when informed of the board’s decision to fire her, Fiorina was “stunned.”

After her firing, there was no shortage of experts to point out her failings. Some felt that Fiorina spent too much time on the road talking to groups and not enough time inside the company. Others felt she overpromised results. One HP executive stated, “There were people inside HP who loved Carly because of her ability to architect a...